- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 14, 2020

Russia will soon have the ability to counter hypersonic weapons deployed by adversaries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday.

Hypersonic weapons fly at speeds at least five times the speed of sound — or Mach 5 — and are widely viewed as a game-changing military technology.

For years specialists and military insiders have warned the U.S. has fallen behind its chief competitors, China and Russia, in the development of the weapons. Catching up and ensuring the U.S. is on par with its foes, and has the capability to defend against hypersonics in the event enemies deploy them, has become a top priority inside the Pentagon.

But Mr. Putin maintained that Moscow remains ahead of Washington in developing new, advanced weapons

“It’s very likely that we will have means to combat hypersonic weapons by the time the world’s leading countries have such weapons,” the president said, as quoted by RIA news agency.

Russia last year deployed its first nuclear-capable hypersonic missile. Mr. Putin unveiled Moscow’s Avangard system in late 2018, and boasted that it can fly at 20 times the speed of sound — or about one mile per second — rendering all current missile defense systems obsolete.

The Pentagon has since launched a new program to counter Russian hypersonic weapons as the military races to keep pace with U.S. foes.

While the Pentagon hasn’t explicitly said the program was launched with Russia in mind, Moscow’s program is a top priority for defense and industry leaders.

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